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Will US's Police Deadly Force Reform Bill Pass?

IT'S crunch time for Assembly Bill 392. The bill is authored by Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, D-San Diego, and introduced in its original form shortly after the killing of Stephon Clark. "There's less than two weeks for AB 392 to clear a floor vote in time to meet the house of origin deadline," according to a Sacramento Bee story by Hannah Wiley. "Weber's office hasn't publicly announced any movement on the bill, and there's been no formal press release on a compromise from law enforcement. As of Monday night, there's no amended version of AB 392 for a floor analysis." We can't let this bill go down without a fight. In the aftermath of Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert's decision to file no charges against the officers who shot Clark in his grandparents' yard last year, many in our community channelled their anger and disappointment into support for AB 392. AB 392 offers hope for avoiding future tragedies. In 2017, 172 people were shot and killed by police in California. The bill seeks to reduce this number by establishing new rules for when police can use deadly force, allowing them to use lethal tactics only when necessary to defend themselves from deadly threats. It would set clear guidelines and deter officers from resorting to lethal force when non-deadly tactics are the better solution. In March, hundreds of Sacramento residents, many of them students, launched an impromptu march on the State Capitol to demand action on AB 392. In April, hundreds of people lined up at an Assembly committee hearing to speak in support of the bill. Only a handful of people, mostly law enforcement lobbyists, spoke in opposition. Law enforcement groups succeeded in stopping a previous version of AB 392 last year. Now, the conversation around the new bill has gone quiet and the clock is ticking. The coming days are critical. -- Governor Gavin Newsom: The governor has been quiet on this issue, but it's not too late for him to bring some of his trademark "courage for a change" to the debate. As the most powerful politician in the state, he holds a tremendous amount of sway. He must not duck on this. -- Senate President pro Tempore Toni Atkins: When a previous version of the bill failed last year, Atkins pledged to spearhead a reform of the deadly force law this year. "We need to end preventable deaths and to do so without jeopardising the safety of law enforcement officers," said Atkins last year. "I know that this is what the author, my friend, Assemblymember Shirley Weber is committed to achieve. I too am committed to this work from now until we return for the next legislative session to get this right and have a bill before the Legislature in January that will make California a model for the rest of the country." -- Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon: To his credit, Rendon has strongly endorsed reform, saying "The tragic death of Stephon Clark is more evidence that we still have far to go to ensure justice for all ... Now we must move forward to change policies on the use of force in order to protect unarmed Californians as well as law enforcement officers." Yet getting the bill passed by a full Assembly vote remains a challenge. Lives are on the line, and time is running out.

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Publication:Qatar Tribune (Doha, Qatar)
Geographic Code:1U9CA
Date:May 27, 2019
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